Gretsch Chet Atkins Hollow Body Model 6120 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1960)

Gretsch  Chet Atkins Hollow Body Model 6120 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1960)
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Item # 11368
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Gretsch Chet Atkins Hollow Body Model 6120 Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1960), made in Brooklyn, NY, serial # 33787, walnut grain lacquer finish, laminated maple body, maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original two-tone Cowboy hard shell case.

This is a super cool and extremely unusual Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 from early 1960, in a very rare factory-applied but non-stock finish for this instrument. This particular guitar is documented in Edward Ball's extensive tome on the model ("GRETSCH 6120: The History Of A Legendary Guitar, page 113) as an early factory refinish to "Country Gentleman" brown. While the bright orange finish was the classic hallmark of all versions of the 6120, even at the time some conservative players found it garish; Chet Atkins himself was one of them! Whoever sent this one back to the factory early on wanted the more subtle look of the Country Gentleman on the smaller body of the 6120, retaining all the model's other features.

The Model 6120 is considered to be the Gretsch company's single most iconic creation in its original single-cutaway form; this guitar dates to the next-to-last production year of these before the switch to the double-cutaway body. The 337xx series serial number indicates it was built fairly early in 1960, showing features specific to the period. This instrument evolved constantly after its introduction in 1955, but all versions have proved to be classics in their own right despite numerous detail changes. This later evolution of the original 6120 is built with a slightly thinner 2.5" deep body; this guitar is actually from the first documented batch with that feature. Some 1960s also have a lovely flame figure to the maple top, as is seen on this one.

This 6120 also mounts the then-new Gretsch-logo's "V-Cut" Bigsby tailpiece, two "Patent Applied For" Filter 'Tron pickups and the heavy "trestle" bracing used from the late '50s. This combination of features provides the distinctive version of "That Great Gretsch Sound" most familiar from Neil Young's Buffalo Springfield/CSNY era and early solo recordings and Pete Townshend's work on WHO'S NEXT. Many players of course most associate this 1960 Filter 'Tron model with Brian Setzer from the Stray Cats on.

Beyond this the dawn-of-the '60s form the 6120 remains a prime classic Rockabilly guitar, and a perfect "Beat group" instrument as well as a perfect vehicle for the sort of fingerstyle playing its namesake Chet Atkins specialized in. This factory refinished example is one of a very few original 6120s known to exist with an alternate non-orange livery. It is one of most interesting 6120's we have seen in some time, a nearly unique find and a really good sounding and playing Gretsch to boot.

We just got some nice history on the instrument from the previous owner: "I owned that for a few years. Nice guitar. Got it from the original owner. He showed me lots of cool pics of before and after it went back to Gretsch. That guitar went to Korea and other USO spots on tour in the 60s. It was used very well."
Overall length is 42 3/4 in. (108.6 cm.), 15 3/4 in. (40 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 1/2 in. (622 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This guitar is in excellent playing condition, showing some typical wear to the finish and Gretsch maintenance repairs. The finish is the correct 1960s Gretsch "Country Gentleman' brown, as per Ball probably applied at the factory some time after the guitar was initially shipped, as suggested by finish spray and drips visible inside the body. The guitar was played quite a bit after that, showing extensive wear down to the wood on the back of the neck with small dings, dents and scrapes overall. There is one concentrated spot of belt buckle wear down to the wood in the center of the back. There is some typical loss to the gold plating.

The finish appears consistent to the 1960s except for some darker overspray on the heel related to a neck re-set. This was well done, the neck angle is quite good and playability is excellent. The guitar was likely rewired when it was refinished; it has also been expertly refretted with appropriate wire and the neck rebound. The frets show only light wear marks in the lower positions. As pictured in the Ball book the bridge and tuners were incorrect; the guitar has been neatly restored with correct original parts with only very small pressure rings on the headstock face as evidence. The only non-original part is a correct repro upper strap button; a small metal plate was long ago added to the lower side in the jack area.

Amazingly for a Gretsch of this era the remaining original binding shows no signs of deterioration; the piece on the treble side of the heel is a replacement as is common when the neck has been reset. This very rare guitar is one of the most unusual 6120's we have seen, and also a fine playing and sounding one. As icing on the cake, it is housed in the original white-tolex cowboy case. We don't know who went back to their dealer and had their 6120 customized originally, but they must have loved the result as they played the heck out of it for some time afterwards! Overall Excellent - Condition.